Now that A-level results day has been and gone, the latest cohort of eighteen-year-olds are looking to the future. For many, this includes the choice between further education or securing an apprenticeship role in their chosen field.

The debate as to the usefulness of an apprenticeship versus a university degree has been raging on for some time. The Association of Accounting Technicians‘ (AAT) recent survey – involving 1,000 employers in the UK – has compiled a set of statistics that fully explores the usefulness of an apprenticeship when compared to a degree qualification.

These routes offer a great way to gain the skills needed to excel at the job, which a traditional university degree simply doesn’t provide

One of the most notable figures released by the AAT is that 49% of those taking the survey would prefer to take on a candidate with relevant experience secured through an apprenticeship programme.

Ben Rowland, co-founder of Arch Apprentices, said: “It doesn’t surprise me that employers are now favouring apprenticeships and relevant work experience over university degrees. These routes offer a great way to gain the skills needed to excel at the job, which a traditional university degree simply doesn’t provide. Especially with the introduction of new apprenticeship standards, which are created by employers for their industry.

“At Arch Apprentices, we launched a white paper last year which looked into the importance of work experience – and the results were shocking. 93% of business decision-makers stated that they believe work experience should be compulsory because it prepares young people for business and boosts their skills. As this research by AAT clarifies, employers are now looking for enthusiastic, experienced young people with the skills to grow their business.”

According to 71% of the 49% in the AAT survey, candidates are more likely have valuable real-life experience of the working world. When compared to the 24% claiming to prefer candidates with a degree qualification, it’s a particularly interesting contrast.

The AAT also asked employers about other specific areas they consider when sifting through job applications. Social media profiles, the structuring of CVs and good references are all equally important factors for young people to consider when they start applying for jobs.

Suzie Webb, the AAT’s Director of Education and Development, commented: : “Young people who are receiving their A-level results should remember that it is as important to build up their soft skills as it is to gain qualifications, to give them the best chance of having the successful career they want.”

The practicality of learning your job role in a working environment has certainly proven to put those who pursue an apprenticeship scheme in a strong position.

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